100% clean energy in Iowa: How it’s possible and how it will benefit Iowa’s rural communities

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October 25-29th marked 2021’s American Clean Power Week, and Iowa is already a leader in the clean power world. 59% of all the state’s electricity is produced using renewable energy. But the Iowa Environmental Council wants Iowa to be able to produce 100% of its electricity with clean energy…and they want it done by the year 2035. Iowa Environmental Council Executive Director, Brian Campbell says, “It’s an ambitious date, but it’s completely achievable.” 

The urgency of climate change and ultimately the health of Iowans are the motivation for accomplishing this goal. Already between wind, solar, and storage products, Iowa is able to avoid more than 32 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is like taking over seven million cars off the road. 

Ideal Energy CEO, Troy Van Beek says there’s still room for growth, and a lot of that growth lies in Iowa’s farm land. “It is advantageous for a farmer to look at renewables and not to think of it as this is a change from our farming tactics and not embrace that change because it’s healthy for the environment and it can actually better crop yields.”

There is also a lot of money involved in leading the country in clean energy. So far this year clean energy has provided $130 million for property, state, and local taxes. This money helps support schools, hospitals, bridge and road repairs and more. Each year wind turbines alone also generate $78 million in lease payments for landowners in rural Iowa. However, just under half of Iowa’s 99 counties still have little to no wind development. ”The revenue that’s generated through clean energy can really help to revitalize and sustain rural communities and the incomes of farmers as well,” said Campbell. 

Van Beek says there are a couple different ways farmers can go about hosting renewable energy on their land. “If they have a developer come in and do it themselves, and then they can, they can just get a lease value for their land that doesn’t cost them anything. And they start producing return as the development happens and and then on an annual basis going forward. So it may not cost them anything. If they become the developer, which is what you’re describing, you know, a three megawatt development could be $3 million dollars plus three to $4 million of investment of their own money,” said Van Beek. 

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